Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cooks from Books...and the Internet!

The internet is a wonderful cooking tool.  If I'm stuck for something to make for dinner all I have to do is Google some ingredients, and ta-dah!  Recipes!  

One day I was trying to use up some sausage, and I found this recipe on Southern Food which I've modified over time, but you can find the original recipe here.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any tomatoes on-hand so I omitted them, which I would strongly advise against.  The tomatoes add a wonderful acid component to this very rich, cheesy dish.

I like to make the cheese sauce in my 5 quart enameled cast iron Dutch Oven.  If you don't have one then use a large saucepan, and combine the finished cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni, and pour into a greased 3 quart casserole dish for baking.

Also, I like to heat the milk before adding to the pot.  I put it in my microwave for about 5 minutes at half power -- just long enough to warm the milk (be careful not to boil the milk).  This really helps speed up the sauce making process.  

My friend, Jennevieve, told me about Di Martino Fusillata, an imported dried pasta she found at Metropolitan Market (an upscale grocery store in our area) which sells for almost $2.50 a pound.  Now usually I wait until pasta goes on sale for $1/package, but she said this was the best pasta -- how could I not try it?  Jennevieve was right.  This pasta is worth the extra money.  It has a firm texture that stands up to a pretty thick and chunky sauce.  I think it will be my go-to pasta for my baked pasta dishes.  

Macaroni and Cheese with Sausage
adapted from Southern Food
Yield:  Serves 6 to 8

1 pound macaroni (I like to use Cavatappi)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 Hillshire Farms Beef Polska Kielbasa, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups milk (I use 2%)
2 cups (8 oz) medium cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
salt to taste
8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved or quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup fine soft bread crumbs
1 tbsp melted butter

Cook macaroni in boiling salted water following package directions.  Preheat the oven to 350. 

Meanwhile, in an enameled cast iron Dutch Oven heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the kielbasa and onions, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the bell peppers, garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and cook until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the flour until blended.  Gradually stir in the milk, and continue to cooking stirring constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese and salt to taste.  Fold in the drained macaroni and tomatoes until blended.  Combine the bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over the casserole.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Increase heat to 400, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer until crumb topping is lightly browned.  

1 comment:

  1. Yep that looks like a pretty decent pot of mac 'n cheese. I like your addition of onion. Sounds very satisfying.